Writing a letter of recommendation

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I need to write a letter of recommendation for someone and realized that I don't really know how and thus decided to start this page. As always, revise freely. --Reshma 08:42, 29 Aug 2005 (EDT)

Form

Organization and content

A quick review of google search results suggested that letters of recommendation have the following form.

First paragraph:

  1. One sentence summary of your opinion of the person.
  2. Introduce yourself.
  3. Introduce how you know the person.

Second, third, fourth etc. paragraphs:

  1. Specific and concrete examples highlighting the person's strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Tailor the letter for the particular position/award/application.

End with a sentence encouraging the reader to contact you if they need more information.

Also, one source said that short letters of recommendation are the "kiss of death" and that if possible, the letter should spill over onto a second page. However, another source claimed that one page is typical for letters. Anyone have more detailed info on desirable length?

Rumor has it that there is a hidden language to letters of recommendation since letters are inevitably positive regardless of the person. How do those not yet privy to this code still write a good letter?

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